HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A Pass Christian woman has pleaded guilty to killing a mother while driving drunk down Highway 90 nearly a year ago. Natalie Duvernay was sentenced to 25 years, with 18 of those years to be served behind bars.
Duvernay, 38, admitted in court Tuesday to one count of felony driving under the influence causing death, which caused the death of 30-year old Iris Franklin.
The wreck happened April 21, 2017, at the intersection of Highway 90 and Church Street in Pass Christian. Authorities testified that Duvernay was speeding down Highway 90, going 70 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone, when she crashed into Franklin's vehicle while it attempted to cross the highway. A medical transport helicopter took Franklin to the hospital, where she later died.
Authorities also testified that Duvernay had more than three times the legal limit of alcohol in her blood. Multiple witnesses had called police before the wreck to report Duvernay for reckless driving. One of those witnesses was able to identify Duvernay to police but officers were unable to find her car.
Capt. Craig Necaise, an accident reconstructionist with Harrison County Sheriff's Office, examined the accident scene. He testified that Duvernay was going approximately 70 miles per hour when she struck Franklin's vehicle, saying there was no sign that Duvernay ever applied the brake.
"Had the defendant been driving the speed limit, Captain Necaise determined that it would have been more likely that an accident could have been avoided or that the victim's injuries would not have been life-threatening," stated assistant district attorney Jason Josef, who prosecuted the case.
In two statements, Duvernay admitting drinking alcohol and driving above the posted speed limit said authorities. Duvernay's blood alcohol content was 0.211%, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08%. She was also on bond at the time of the wreck after being charged with DUI less than a month before the fatal crash.
Duvernay expressed her regret to Franklin's four children, parents, and siblings, telling them she suffers from cancer and expressing her regret for her actions.
"The defendant chose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated and her actions caused the death of a young mother who was loved by her family and friends," stated Harrison County District Attorney Joel Smith.